October 22, 2017
    National Speakers Association abandons new ‘Platform’ name

    Conflicts with other organizations, member criticism leads association to start rebranding process again but with greater member involvement


    The National Speakers Association will involve members more in an effort to determine the association’s new brand, after dropping the name the organization announced just weeks ago.

    NSA CEO Stacy Tetschner, CAE, said the association is creating an advisory group of members to help determine the new name. He expects that the effort to determine a new brand will begin within the next two months. Who will be on the advisory group has not yet been determined.

    Earlier this month, NSA rolled out at its annual convention a new brand called “Platform,” which leadership said was two years in the making. NSA had created a rebranding committee consisting of members to lead the effort. Also members donated their services in the rebranding effort. The process included research and focus groups. Tetschner said about $40,000 was spent on market research for the association, which led to, but not specifically on creating, a new brand. “It was money we would have spent anyway,” he said.

    Tetschner said the name change started with an examination of whether the association needed to get away from themed conventions, to a brand for their events that would be consistent. As the association determined that it need to change offerings and upgrade services, the effort culminated in a new name for the organization.

    Tetschner said members were alerted a few months ago through his column in the group’s member magazine that the new name would be announced at the NSA annual convention. The organization also discussed the brand change at chapter meetings before the announcement. This approach was designed “to build anticipation,” Tetschner said.

    “The stumbling block for us was that ‘Platform’ did not resonate with them [the members]. In research it had,” Tetschner said.

    Criticism of the new brand followed immediately after it was announced, mainly that it was too close to “Platform University,” a program by consultant Michael Hyatt. The bestselling author noted his disappointment of NSA’s new name through social media, which was followed by posts and articles by others about the similarity.

    Many posts questioned why the similarity was not caught before the rollout. Tetschner said they were aware of Platform University, but their initial research indicated there was not an overlap in the communities that each served, but that had changed by the time NSA rolled out “Platform.”

    Tetschner and NSA chairman Shep Hyken went to the Internet to ask for members to send their feedback. After an emergency board meeting several days after the rollout of the new name, Hyken announced in a YouTube video that the name “Platform” was not going to be used, but the effort to determine a new brand will continue. Tetschner said the effort to rebrand to Platform did not get past the rollout stage. The next stage, a website change, was planned for January.

    Hyatt, in an online post, said, “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

    He added, “This is a good example of an organization that stumbled but then had the integrity to reverse their decision once they processed all the relevant input. This is extremely rare among individuals, let alone organizations. I salute them for their leadership.

    “If you publicly expressed your frustration with the NSA’s orginal announcement, please publicly express your approval of this one….I want to do everything I can to affirm this decision and support them in their quest to find a new brand that expresses who they are and resonates with their members.”

    On another front, there also was a conflict with an organization called the International Platform Association, also a group for public speakers. Tetschner said they were aware that long-time NSA exhibitor Mitchell Davis had bought the IPA trademark but believed the organization had not been active for some years.

    Davis, who is also editor of the Expertclicks.com directory, said he stopped exhibiting with NSA this year. He bought the IPA trademark a year and a half ago and became CEO, but has worked full time for IPA since 2006, he said. The organization ceased conducting an annual meeting in 2009, but this week will announce a call for "a congress of speakers to elect new leadership” and create a 501(c)3 organization. An annual meeting is planned for Aug. 7 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

    Davis said this incident has become an "opportunity" for IPA. He reported that he already received a call from a possible exhibitor for the IPA annual.

    “They stumbled when their leadership didn’t tell their membership about it,” Davis said of the NSA "Platform" change. Noting that NSA's acronym had become well known in the industry, but is now closely associated with the National Security Agency (as also noted in the original announcement for Platform), “all they needed to do was not use the acronym anymore,” Davis said.

    Association TRENDS